Saturday, May 26, 2018
News Roundup

Hotel Detroit, city talks are off

ST. PETERSBURG — A dispute over the historic landmark designation of the Detroit Hotel, built in 1888 by St. Petersburg co-founders Peter Demens and John C. Williams, appears to be heading to trial.

An attempt to resolve the issue fell through late last week, when a mediation session scheduled between attorneys for the city of St. Petersburg and the Hotel Detroit Condominium Association was canceled.

Each side offered different reasons for the impasse.

"My attorney called the city attorney and they said, 'We're not willing to concede or give you any ground and we're only willing to answer questions,' " said Tony Amico of the St. Pete Jannus LLC group that owns four of the 24 condos and the five commercial units at the 215 Central Ave. property. The group also owns the concert venue Jannus Live, the Tamiami Bar at 242 First Ave. N and the old Bishop Hotel at 256 First Ave. N.

"We had scheduled a meeting to maybe settle the matter," assistant city attorney Pam Cichon said. "The attorneys for the Hotel Detroit, they did not think it would be fruitful."

The condominium association filed its lawsuit two years ago, after the city council voted to designate the property historic. It filed an amended complaint in March. Historic designation, the amended complaint states, "severely restricts the individual unit owner's ability to alter or demolish the existing structure or to build a new structure, effectively 'freezing' use of the property to the existing structure."

Landmark status has "destroyed the value of the property and injured the values of my other properties at Jannus Landing," Amico said.

The suit requests that the historic landmark designation be declared invalid. It also seeks legal fees and any other relief the court feels "is just and appropriate."

In a telephone interview, Cichon said the Detroit Hotel owners have "a very defeatist attitude" and have been unwilling to allow the city to explain options for redevelopment.

"Having a historic designation does not prevent them from demolishing and rebuilding," she said, pointing to two other historic downtown properties, the former Grayl's Hotel and the former First Baptist Church.

Grayl's Hotel at 340 Beach Drive NE, built in 1922 as the Lantern Lane Hotel, is undergoing millions of dollars in renovation. The interior of the three-story building has been gutted and the owner announced plans to add a fourth-floor ballroom and a fifth floor rooftop lounge to what will then be renamed the Birchwood Inn.

The former First Baptist Church, which is owned by St. Peter's Episcopal Cathedral, was the subject of years of contention between the cathedral and preservationists, who fought to save the historic neoclassical sanctuary from demolition. An agreement in 2008 allowed demolition of the back of the former church, leaving intact the facade with its Greek revival columns. St. Peter's said it would incorporate the facade into a columbarium.

Richard MacAulay, the city's manager of historic preservation, gave other examples of historic properties that have been modified, including the Vinoy and the Pennsylvania Hotel, now a Courtyard by Marriott. Exterior modifications of historic properties require approval from the Community Preservation Commission, he said.

The Detroit Hotel's landmark status was initiated by St. Petersburg Preservation, a group that works to save important sites and structures in the city. According to the group, the former hotel is "the first significant building constructed in the city."

Detroit Hotel condo owners strenuously fought the city's move to make the site historic.

"All the people who own the property with me, none of us want it," Amico said. "It's private property. It was zoned for redevelopment by the city. It has the highest density of any block in the city of St. Petersburg and a 300-foot height limit. They want to hold us to 45 to 50 feet and not compensate us for the right to build a building on that property."

Amico scoffs at transfer development rights, a financial incentive that allows owners of eligible historic properties to sell credits to developers at another site.

"It's not worth anything," he said. "Nobody's ever bought one. That's what they have offered as compensation."

MacAulay said though several landmarked properties have established inventories of development credits, no sales have been registered with the city.

The trial is set for Nov. 30.

Waveney Ann Moore can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 892-2283.

Comments
Rays journal: Rays shut out by Orioles in opener

Rays journal: Rays shut out by Orioles in opener

By Joey JohnstonTimes CorrespondentST. PETERSBURG — Rays LHP Ryan Yarbrough deserved better Friday. But the offense didn't offer much, allowing the Orioles to escape with a 2-0 victory before an announced crowd of 11,354 at Tropicana Field."It ...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Rays trade closer Alex Colome, outfielder Denard Span to Mariners

Rays trade closer Alex Colome, outfielder Denard Span to Mariners

ST. PETERSBURG – In January, sure.In July, absolutely.But, now?And, once again, for someone who they hope helps in the future.The Rays made a shocking trade at a surprising time of year Friday, dealing All-Star closer Alex Colome and Tampa...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Steve Yzermanís summer plans: Make the Lightning better

Steve Yzermanís summer plans: Make the Lightning better

TAMPA — Captain Steven Stamkos said the Lightning's window for contending for a Stanley Cup championship is not closing."I think it's wide open," he said Thursday, one day after the Lightning lost Game 7 of the Eastern Conference final to the C...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Editorial: Welcome Bayshore changes still canít stop bad judgment

Editorial: Welcome Bayshore changes still canít stop bad judgment

Itís human nature in following any tragedy to imagine: How could this have been prevented? On that score, the city of Tampa responded appropriately to the deaths this week of a mother and her toddler whom police say were hit by a teenage driver racin...
Updated: 5 hours ago
In federal trial, jury finds Hernando deputiesí actions justified

In federal trial, jury finds Hernando deputiesí actions justified

TAMPA ó Michael Bratt told a story.He said that Hernando County sheriffís deputies attacked him in his home early one morning eight years ago, beat him severely on his front lawn, and continued the assault as they took him to a hospital.But another s...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Police: Driver in fatal Bayshore faces new charge in childís death

Police: Driver in fatal Bayshore faces new charge in childís death

The 18-year-old who was arrested this week after police said he was racing when he fatally struck a young mother pushing her stroller across Bayshore Boulevard was back in jail on Friday night.Cameron Herrin, 18, was arrested on a second count of veh...
Updated: 5 hours ago
The Bucsí influence inside the Vegas Golden Knightsí runaway success

The Bucsí influence inside the Vegas Golden Knightsí runaway success

The Stanley Cup final begins Monday in the unlikeliest of places: a city new to major pro sports and suddenly the center of the hockey world, Las Vegas, whose Golden Knights could become the first first-year expansion team to win a championship.And t...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Did the NFL really need a national anthem policy?

Did the NFL really need a national anthem policy?

Before we even get going, let me be clear about something.This is not a column making an argument about whether or not NFL players should be able to kneel in protest during the national anthem.That topic has been debated repeatedly, loudly and passio...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Rays trade Alex Colome and Denard Span to Mariners for prospects

Rays trade Alex Colome and Denard Span to Mariners for prospects

The Rays made a major trade Friday afternoon, sending All-Star closer Alex Colome and OF Denard Span to the Mariners.The return is two minor-leaguers, RHP Andrew Moore and RHP Tommy Romero. The Rays also sent cash to the Mariners.Span, a Tampa produc...
Updated: 7 hours ago
For starters: Sergio Romo on mound tonight as Rays open series against Orioles

For starters: Sergio Romo on mound tonight as Rays open series against Orioles

By JOEY JOHNSTONTimes CorrespondentST. PETERSBURG — For openers, the Rays will use RHP Sergio Romo, the 35-year-old career reliever, as tonight's starter against the Baltimore Orioles at Tropicana Field.Romo is making his third career "sta...
Updated: 8 hours ago